You are a Media Empire

empireThe way business works has changed. I talk a lot about the notion that you can now take on all of these great multimedia endeavors thanks to technology and the social web. But the there is more to it than that, and if you haven’t realized it yet, I’m probably about to scare the crap out of you: your customers expect it.

They wouldn’t like it if you did it. They don’t wish you would do it. They expect it. And if you don’t, then they look upon your business the way we used to look at businesses thirty years ago that didn’t have an ad in the yellow pages. Slapdash. Too small to be reputable. Or worse, fly-by-night.

Why would they expect such a thing? Why should you be expected to be a media empire instead of a plumber, or an accountant, or a restaurant? Because, just as with the yellow pages in the 20th century, in the 16th year of the 21st century that is how they search for you. And because they live their lives on social media (and by they, I mean everyone 13-50), and can post photos and videos and cute cards with witty copy. What makes you entitled to be treated any differently?

Cost of Entry
The good news is that this happened now, and not fifteen years ago. Making HD videos with visual effects and creating posters and cards and books to distribute in a continuous stream to the masses cost a ton of cash. Now the cost of entry is “reach into your pocket.”

It is that ease of access that truly enables the expectation for you to create your own media empire.

There are two other costs of entry into the Empire game: one that gets blown out of proportion, and one that is seldom discussed.

The Not-A-Barrier
The one that gets blown out of proportion is “time.” You are too busy to create content. You don’t have enough time to engage with people on social media. Which is, of course, total B.S. You just have to manage that time, just like you manage the amount of time you devote to meetings and employee reviews and client lunches. And if you really don’t have time, then you delegate. It’s not rocket science, it’s just business. We’ve already discussed that topic.

The Ever-Moving Audience
The one that doesn’t get discussed is the ever-moving audience. 10 years ago, Facebook was mostly college kids and a few marketers trying to figure out the social media thing. About three or four years ago, as parents and grandparents migrated onto Facebook to keep up with their kids, the kids left for Instagram. Now that the old fogies have found and embraced Instagram, the youngsters are fleeing to SnapChat.

You can’t wait for the fallout to happen and see which network is going to “win.” It doesn’t work that way anymore. This is the new reality. Your audience is now a moving target. The best way to keep up with them is to produce content they want to consume and then have honest-to-god human interaction with them and find out where they are spending their time.

So the real cost of creating a media empire is that you can’t hide behind the old advertising model. You have to get up close and personal with your customers. Develop a relationship. Not old-school marketing, but medieval marketing… you know, in the actual market (where did you think the term came from?) where your customer walked up to your stall and made eye contact with you while you explained what was so great about your wares.

Something to Say
Once you realize that your customers expect you to produce content, and you understand where they are hanging out, you have to have something to say. What is that something? Simple. 1. We get who you are. 2. Here’s what’s in it for you. 3. Look, we’re people too. 4. Hey, wanna see something cool/funny/cute/crazy/stupid/heartwarming/scary?

You are telling a story, but it’s not your story. It is the story of your customer, their hopes and dreams and desires and fears and shortcomings and failures and successes. You are telling it one picture or video or how-to article at a time. You are not the hero. You are the plucky sidekick. Or the comic relief. Or the wizened old sage showing them the path. You are there to pick them up when they fall. You are there to celebrate the thousand small victories along their quest. “Oh, and by the way, this will help you on your way. It’s just $24.95.”